Call for GB vets to help NI with wildlife crime unit

Call for GB vets to help NI with wildlife crime unit

Vets from Great Britain with experience in treating dogs with badger baiting injuries should establish an enhanced police wildlife crime unit to tackle the problem in Northern Ireland, it has been suggested.

The USPCA said a real crackdown is needed on the problem and the organised crime groups behind it, insisting the  seizure of devices should be a priority when investigating the offence.

It has also called for a ban on hunting wild animals with dogs, as Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not to have such legislation.

Badgers are a protected species and badger baiting is an illegal activity.

The charity’s special investigations unit has found that more than 150 active badger baiters are operating in Northern Ireland, killing more than 2,000 badgers a year at a conservative estimate.

Badger baiting involves sending a small dog wearing a radio collar down into a sett.

When a badger is located, the offenders dig down to remove the badger, sometimes disabling it, before throwing it to larger dogs to be killed.

Nora Smith, the chief executive of the USPCA: “Our report highlights the shocking reality of badger baiting in Northern Ireland and the considerable weaknesses in the investigation, enforcement and prosecution of these violent and barbaric offences,” she said.

“Doing nothing is not an option.”

The dogs used by the criminals often suffer traumatic injuries as the badger fights for its life.

Legislation outlawing hunting with dogs has already been passed in the rest of the the UK, however in December 2021 Stormont politicians rejected a bill that sought to ban hunting wild animals with dogs in Northern Ireland.